Gold Mafia: South African president announces investigation

Cyril Ramaphosa – South Africa President

In what can be considered the first major official reaction to the investigative video report by Al Jazeera known as Gold Mafia, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an investigation.

The four-episode undercover investigation exposed how criminal groups used gold to launder money across Africa. Undercover reporters recorded a whistleblower sharing documentary evidence of how some South African banks and bank employees were used to facilitate money laundering across the world.

In a video recording tweeted today May 12, 2023 President Ramaphosa says the government takes the allegations made in the documentary seriously.

“The government takes the allegations made in the Al Jazeera documentary seriously. We are committed to preserving the integrity of our financial system in the interest of the broader economy and ordinary citizens.

With respect to actions currently being taken to investigate individuals who are alleged in the documentary to be criminally implicated, an enquiry has been registered to investigate these syndicates and individuals,” he said.

He however said, no arrests have been made yet.


“This investigation is at an enquiry stage and no arrests have been made as yet. Details of the steps that are being taken cannot be divulged at this stage without compromising the investigation.

At the same time, government is working with the Financial Action Task Force to investigate, to prosecute and to prevent these financial activities and thoroughly investigate various allegations, particularly, those contained in the Al Jazeera documentary,” he said.

A South African, Mohammed Khan, also known as Mo Dollars was cited in the videos as the biggest money laundering in that country.

His former wife and brother, both in hiding spoke extensively to undercover reporters about the activities of Mo Dollars.

Even though, most African countries are endowed with natural resources such as gold, majority of their citizens are living in poverty,

With a population of about 1.3 billion people and a GDP of around $3.4 trillion, Africa is reputed to produce more than 60 metal and mineral products and is a major producer of several of the world’s most important minerals and metals.

Some of the precious metals found in Africa include gold, diamond, PGE’s, silver, iron, uranium, bauxite, manganese, chromium, nickel, bauxite, cobalt and copper. Platinum, coal, and phosphates are also mined on the continent. New precious mineral like lithium is being discovered in some countries including Ghana.

Africa also has rich forests, marine and aquatic resources.

In 2010 alone, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) estimated that the top 40 mining companies operating in Africa reportedly made net profits of about $110 billion. And these companies have a net asset base which exceeds $1 trillion.

However, according to the ECA, 546 million people on Africa are still living in poverty. That figure it says is an increase of 74 per cent since 1990.

Inflation in Africa stood at 12.3 per cent in 2022, and that was much higher than the world average of 6.7 per cent.

The ECA further estimates that households in Africa spend up to 40 per cent of their income on food, and following the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises, some 310 million Africans experienced some form of food insecurity and six million faced extreme hunger in 2022.

In 2022, the government debt-to-GDP ratio in Africa was 64.5 per cent, which is significantly higher than the pre-pandemic figure for 2019 that was 57.1 per cent, according to the ECA.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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